Wrays­bury ses­sions - Part III

The best laid plans... Pain and plea­sure in the Bus Stop

Carpworld - - CONTENTS - - Al White

The best laid plans... Pain and plea­sure in the Bus Stop

Fol­low­ing the cap­ture of the Bro­ken Lin in last month’s piece, I now had one of my two re­main­ing tar­gets firmly in my gaze. How­ever, this part of the plan went down the Swan­nee re­mark­ably quickly. I was not an­gling the week­end fol­low­ing the above cap­ture and was pop­ping over to Hor­ton on the Sun­day morn­ing to try and es­tab­lish be­yond doubt if the tremen­dous ru­mours cir­cling the Hor­ton com­plex, that Ru had fi­nally pro­cured some brew mak­ing kit, were ac­tu­ally true or not. For those who don’t know Ru he is not much of a tea drinker and has a pref­er­ence for good (read, posh) cof­fee. He’s the guy you stand next to in Costa or Star­bucks ask­ing for a dou­ble-strength, frothy, vanilla, moc­ca­chocofrap­palatte or some­thing sim­i­lar. I called him just be­fore I left home. He had just fin­ished tak­ing pic­tures of yet an­other 40 from the Church Lake at Hor­ton (I think there are now 23 of them in there, which is just crazy in a lake of that size). He firstly ad­mon­ished me for my cyn­i­cism, in­formed me he would soon re­turn to his swim and put the ket­tle on, and wait for me in his new haunt on the Boat Pool with a steam­ing mug of tea. Ex­cit­edly I got into the car, pointed the trusty carp wagon in the di­rec­tion of Hor­ton and set off, an­tic­i­pat­ing a fine and lon­gawaited brew courtesy of the shiny new stove and ket­tle of the Clone Val­ley Carper...

Just as I came past the Long­field en­trance he rang back and my hopes were dashed. “Sam in the Run­way is ap­par­ently go­ing ab­so­lutely men­tal. I think he’s got a good ’un in the net. I’ll meet you at Wrays­bury.”

I cursed un­der my breath and turned left at the next junc­tion in­stead of go­ing straight ahead. It was sev­eral weeks be­fore I was able to fi­nally con­firm the ru­mours that his ket­tle own­er­ship were in­deed true as I went on to visit him sev­eral times dur­ing his suc­cess­ful cam­paign for the awe­some ‘Patch Two-tone’ on the Boat Pool.

Through­out the years, I’ve had carp fish­ing de­liver me many cruel kicks to the nuts, of­ten feel­ing like they’re from a hefty size 11 foot, clad in steel toe-capped win­kle pick­ers, so nat­u­rally I ex­pected the worse (for me). Given the swim it had come from and the moon phase, I knew the chances of it be­ing Paw Print were prac­ti­cally zero and, as I came through the gates, Joel was mak­ing his way round the lake for a gan­der and con­firmed what I had al­ready sensed.

It was in­deed the Long Sut­ton and weigh­ing an im­mense 43lb-plus too. It is a breath­tak­ing carp to see on the bank and has the body shape and form that be­trays its Sut­ton blood­lines, yet from a dis­tance has the pur­ple hues and dark back that re­minds me of the mighty Black Mir­ror that once graced the wa­ters of the Se­cret Mere, only a short dis­tance away. In my eyes it’s now one of the best look­ers in the Val­ley. Although we hadn’t seen him much re­cently, Sam had fished hard this year along with some of the other lads, prac­ti­cally liv­ing at the lake in April and May (from mem­ory I think he did an in­cred­i­ble 28 nights in April alone which is some ef­fort to make) and it was good to see such a mag­nif­i­cent crea­ture come out to some­one who had put the time and ef­fort in over the sea­son. Backs were slapped, hands shaken, cap­tors suit­ably drenched in wa­ter, and I even­tu­ally re­turned home – tea-less.

With this hav­ing oc­curred, it was now very much time to com­mence Plan C and the only one I had left – catch Paw Print. In re­al­ity I had no ac­tual plan, just a de­sire to catch it. So I fig­ured that de­vis­ing some form of cun­ning plan would prob­a­bly be a sen­si­ble idea. With a forth­com­ing work trip tak­ing me out of the coun­try for 10 days, I knew I only had two week­ends fish­ing avail­able be­fore then, with only one falling on a de­cent and likely moon phase to try and snare the beast.

As men­tioned last month, the bailiff team at Wrays­bury fish the week­ends on a rota and due to a few hol­i­days and some week­ends be­ing swapped by the other lads, we had a gap the fol­low­ing week­end. So I hero­ically (read self­ishly) vol­un­teered for it. I im­me­di­ately booked the Friday af­ter­noon off work to try and en­sure I had some Paw Print based real es­tate to an­gle from for the

Through­out the years, I’ve had carp fish­ing de­liver me many cruel kicks to the nuts, of­ten feel­ing like they’re from a hefty size 11 foot, clad in steel toe-capped win­kle pick­ers...

week­end. As­sum­ing this would then gain me some brown-nosed-ie points with head bailiff Jim, I also asked if for the fol­low­ing rota I could vol­un­teer for the week­end, which would co­in­cide with when I was con­vinced Paw Print would slip up. Jim, know­ing me very well, and know­ing what a sad bas­tard I can be at times, was happy to in­dulge my re­quest and I am guessing saw through my kind of­fer like a thin pane of glass. Thanks big man! Know­ing I could not fish the fol­low­ing week­end but also that I then had my last chance the week af­ter (be­fore de­part­ing for the US and Canada) I booked the Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon through to Friday off, to give me a four-night ses­sion lead­ing up to and over, what I thought would be the key moon phase.

Prior to au­tumn’s ar­rival, most week­nights would see a few of the lads do­ing overnighters on the lake but now the nights were draw­ing in they were be­com­ing less and less fre­quent. I re­ally ad­mire the ef­fort the lads who do this put in and through the course of the sea­son, a num­ber of them have been re­warded with some fine catches to re­ward their en­deav­ours. With the re­duced num­bers now fish­ing mid­week, I fig­ured I had a good chance of be­ing able to get some bait go­ing into a cho­sen swim, prior to the fi­nal four-nighter com­menc­ing. In my mind this was go­ing to play out as fol­lows: spend some time feed­ing Paw Print; turn up; catch Paw Print on night one; go home and spend an un­ex­pected three nights in a proper bed. Sim­ple. Any­how I am skip­ping ahead of my­self some­what...

On that first ses­sion, the Friday af­ter­noon saw me ar­rive at a rel­a­tively empty lake. Based on pre­vi­ous form I wanted to be in one of three swims and, as if by magic, one of them was free. So I dropped into the Bus Stop for the week­end. I would nor­mally stay a night but in my mind I was now fish­ing for one fish. If carp started show­ing down the other end there was no point mov­ing as Paw Print had been caught from there so in­fre­quently it felt like I would be re­duc­ing my chances of catch­ing it, and not in­creas­ing them.

I spread the rods across the swim, one to a hump in open wa­ter, one tight to the Cigar Is­land mar­gin and an­other to a well-fished spot on the rope, that de­fines the out of bounds area down the back of the Is­land. I baited them all fairly heav­ily with a good dose of Pro Ma­rine, know­ing I wouldn’t be go­ing far and was pre­pared to wait it out. It was now game on...

On dark I had a sav­age liner on the is­land rod which I was within a whisker of hit­ting and it cer­tainly set the heart rac­ing. Due to the Is­land mar­gins be­ing rather snaggy and each snag be­ing fes­tooned with thou­sands of ra­zor-sharp ze­bra mus­sels, I was fish­ing this rod as well as the one on the rope to­tally locked-up, so any oc­cur­rence at all meant it was im­me­di­ately ‘squeaky bum time’...

As usual I was up around sun­rise and ha­bit­u­ally spent the morn­ing chain-drink­ing tea, eyes glued to the wa­ter. Around eight I had an­other liner on the is­land rod. Forty-five min­utes later this hap­pened again, then 10 min­utes or so later it hap­pened again and shortly af­ter­wards it went, and with such force it al­most pulled the bank­stick over. I struck into what­ever was on the end which left a large boil on the sur­face right on the tree-line of the is­land. Ap­ply­ing some sidestrain I heaved it away from the is­land and walked to the far right of the swim drag­ging it fur­ther into open wa­ter. Thank­fully it turned and then set off on a very pow­er­ful run to my right tak­ing over 20 yards of line in the process. Then, without warn­ing, it turned 180º and made for the back of the is­land. I ran back­wards ap­ply­ing more sidestrain and man­aged to turn it just as it rolled on the tree-line again. The line it had taken meant it now had a long enough leash to make a dash for the snags in the is­land mar­gin, with me pow­er­less to stop it. Without warn­ing the line went slack and I as­sumed the hook had pulled as it had been un­der tremen­dous force on two oc­ca­sions dur­ing the fight. I yelled a few ob­scen­i­ties by way of try­ing to make my­self feel slightly bet­ter and for­tu­nately the trains be­hind the swim were on time for once (which is usu­ally only when I’m not on them) so the sound did not travel far. I con­tin­ued reel­ing in and even­tu­ally only my main­line re­turned, flap­ping use­lessly across the sur­face with a clean cut hav­ing been made straight through it. For the record that was 30lb Power Pro, which has in­cred­i­ble abra­sion re­sis­tance for a braid, but was no match for what­ever it en­coun­tered that morn­ing. I don’t usu­ally dwell for long on lost fish, es­pe­cially those I haven’t seen, but the power of that told me it was a good fish and I still feel de­spon­dent now when I think back to that loss.

The rest of the day passed un­event­fully and af­ter reel­ing the rods in I went for a wan­der and found a large num­ber of fish down the back of Cigar Is­land and also not far away in Sun­nymeads Cor­ner – so knew my chances were good for an­other bite or two that night.

I turned in early and aside from a few more ‘bat bites’ was awo­ken around 3am by a take on the rope spot, which saw me lit­er­ally dive for the rod as I could see the take had lifted it over the snag ears and it was only re­main­ing vaguely in place due to the main­line be­ing caught be­hind one of them (note to self – next time put a storm pole in as well!).

I dipped the rod to the right and sim­ply walked that way in an at­tempt to pull the fish out of the snaggy chan­nel which worked per­fectly. The next part of the fight didn’t go so well... It kited into the mar­gins where I knew that, although in very shal­low wa­ter, there was a snag present that would cause me a few is­sues if it made it in there. Be­fore it had, I sud­denly felt an aw­ful grat­ing sen­sa­tion through the rod and ev­ery­thing felt strangely bouncy and like I was play­ing it on a length of elas­tic – which clearly wasn’t right. Then

the in­evitable hap­pened, the fish was gone and the hook pulled into some­thing that wasn’t mov­ing. Great. It had now started rain­ing and as some­one who be­lieves pulling for a break is al­ways an ab­so­lute last re­sort, I knew I had to don the waders and try and sort out what­ever had oc­curred. Cast­ing to the spot in­volved wad­ing down the mar­gin, which I al­ready knew was safe to walk along in the dark, so I grabbed a head-torch and set off as the sounds of the rain pat­ter­ing the sur­face grew steadily louder.

I waded down the mar­gin un­til I was level with the rope, tight­ened down on the rod and grabbed the line. I pulled it and could see what had hap­pened. Clearly, some­one pre­vi­ously had at­tempted to cast at the same spot and cast straight over the rope. Upon do­ing this, said ge­nius then man­aged to hook the rope and in a stun­ning dis­play of stu­pid­ity then de­cided to pull for a break. The re­sult of this was a lead which had trav­elled down the line af­ter the lead clip de­tached from the swivel be­com­ing firmly em­bed­ded in the snag I men­tioned. Add a fur­ther 20 odd feet of thick mono into the equa­tion, which was now caught in a trail of sunken wil­low branches and weed and the com­bined ef­fect of all this was the ‘bungee’ act­ing as a supremely ef­fi­cient dis­gorger as the fish kited be­hind it. Deep, deep joy.

Given the force that would likely be re­quired to sort the mess out I waded back to the bivvy for what I call my snag gloves and re­turned to the of­fend­ing mess. If you’ve ever tried hand-lin­ing wet braid you’ll un­der­stand just why I take them (a pair of gar­den­ing gloves I al­ways keep in the holdall). Oh, did I men­tion it had started rain­ing? Well by this point it was pour­ing down and I was as wet in­side my waders as I would have been out of them! To cut a long, wet, painful and sweary process short, I even­tu­ally man­aged to re­trieve my rig as well as re­mov­ing the of­fend­ing items of other gear. I fig­ured by this point I could only get any wet­ter if I fell in, so repo­si­tioned the rod and went back to sleep a di­shev­elled mess, for a cru­elly short pe­riod of time be­fore my alarm went off.

A few hours later I con­ceded de­feat and re­treated home, hav­ing suf­fered only my sec­ond blank ses­sion on there that year. I gave the swim a big hit of bait be­fore I left. As ever, I also left swear­ing vengeance and all the other silly things we do when a bad ses­sion oc­curs.

At home when my wounds had been suf­fi­ciently licked I gained a more pos­i­tive out­look. I’d fished a swim for the first time, had two bites (even if I lost them both) and man­aged to re­move a trou­ble­some snag. Plus I now had a plan... sorry, A plan!

Un­able to fish the fol­low­ing week­end, I made a re­turn af­ter dark on the Sun­day even­ing with a com­bined 12kg of Pro Ma­rine Hemp and a healthy dose of 18mm Pro Ma­rine to boot. I knew no one was in the swim when I walked the lake on the Satur­day morn­ing so hoped it would be free. With only one van in the car park I made my way round the lake with a spring in my step.

Ar­riv­ing at the Bus Stop I stopped in my tracks when I found some­one set up. For­tu­nately, it was a good mate, Joel, hav­ing moved in there that af­ter­noon. Upon see­ing the rod and buck­ets I was hold­ing, along with the look on my face, he im­me­di­ately knew the score. Joel’s a great guy and can be trusted with a se­cret and I told him of my plan to bait heav­ily for the next three days, then ar­rive Wed­nes­day to hope­fully reap the re­wards. Top bloke that he is he told me to spomb the open wa­ter spot up as it was miles from where he was fish­ing, of­fered to bait the other two spots for me when he left and even made me a cup of tea. What a leg­end. How many peo­ple would do that for you on a busy syn­di­cate? I re­turned again for the fol­low­ing two nights to re­peat the ex­er­cise and this time, as hoped, the swim was empty both nights. It also tran­spired I was not the only one who had such clan­des­tine plans un­der­way – two of the other lads, who will re­main name­less, were a lit­tle sur­prised to see me emerg­ing from the bushes one even­ing to find them se­cretly bait­ing a dif­fer­ent area of the lake. Good an­gling fel­las.

I did my usual trick driv­ing to the lake Wed­nes­day morn­ing be­fore hop­ping on the train. It turned out to be one of those days in work when you are con­stantly look­ing out of the win­dow, hop­ing and pray­ing some­one will not be in the swim when you ar­rive. I left slightly later than planned, and pur­pose­fully sat on the left hand side of the train know­ing I would be trav­el­ling di­rectly be­hind the swim. Upon see­ing it was empty I gave a lit­tle “Yesssss” and a fist pump, much to the amuse­ment, or prob­a­ble con­cern, of my fel­low pas­sen­gers. In no time I was in the swim and had the rods out, all of which cracked down on the spots with the usual rigs and an as­sort­ment of hook­baits on – a mix­ture of Stinky Squidz and pink Pro Ma­rine cork­ers. I had a good lead around in the weed near the open wa­ter spot which had seen all of the hemp and

Upon see­ing it was empty I gave a lit­tle “Yesssss” and a fist pump, much to the amuse­ment, or prob­a­ble con­cern, of my fel­low pas­sen­gers

didn’t bring a sin­gle strand back with any hemp in which raised my con­fi­dence through the roof. I baited the spots fairly heav­ily hop­ing any fish in the area would have been used to find­ing it in re­cent days and went to sleep be­fore ten hop­ing for some ac­tion dur­ing the night.

At just gone 3am the Is­land rod was away and sick­en­ingly, af­ter about 30 sec­onds, af­ter do­ing the hard part and lead­ing the fish away from the snags, the line fell slack. Upon reel­ing in, the hook point had been turned com­pletely over and had clearly not pen­e­trated far enough to stay in situ. Curs­ing my luck I clipped a fresh rig and bait on, cast them back to the spot and ‘sticked’ an­other few hun­dred baits out.

At 7.30am and just af­ter a hearty break­fast, the same rod was away. Af­ter com­ing away from the snags ini­tially, it then turned and pow­ered down the front of the Is­land into the snaggy chan­nel. Due to the length of line it was on, hav­ing learned some painful lessons I reeled fast and put on a large amount of side-strain be­fore it turned. A few beeps on the locked up rod in the chan­nel told me it was still deep as it bumped the other line and then put on a hard fight­ing dis­play in the mar­gins. Even­tu­ally, a long fish suc­cumbed to the wait­ing net.

Know­ing it was still bite time I se­cured the fish in the net, clipped an­other rig and bait on, whizzed them out and re­baited the spot. Shortly af­ter­wards I hoisted the fish onto the scales record­ing a weight of 26lb 10oz and fired off some self takes be­fore slip­ping the carp back into his wa­tery abode.

At 9.30am the de­ci­sion to quickly re­bait the rod was vindicated and it was away again. As I hit the take, the fish boiled lit­er­ally in the branches on the edge of the is­land. The same rou­tine of walk­ing right whilst ap­ply­ing heavy sidestrain fol­lowed and I drew the fish away from the snags. I care­fully stepped into the lake with the net and af­ter a rel­a­tively pon­der­ous fight, a spec­tac­u­lar-look­ing, scaly mir­ror with his dor­sal fin an­grily erect, slipped into the wait­ing folds of the net. It truly was a spec­tac­u­lar-look­ing crea­ture and I im­me­di­ately thought it was one of the al­most fully-scaled stock­ies that had bro­ken the 30lb bar­rier ear­lier this year, that Sam and then Carl Brown had caught. This fish de­served some­thing bet­ter than self-takes so once more I rang the long suf­fer­ing Ru who ar­rived slightly af­ter­wards, along with Gor­geous George the RK Fish­ery Man­ager. By this time I had weighed her in at 30lb 6oz and, as I un­zipped the re­tainer for the photos, we lit­er­ally gasped aloud as her flanks were teas­ingly re­vealed and the bright au­tumn sun re­flected off the golden, ap­ple-slice scales which clad her flanks. As ever Ru took some stun­ning shots, one of which found its way proudly onto the cover of Carp-talk a few weeks later.

Now due to the na­ture of his jobs, Ru has de­vel­oped quite an eye for fish recog­ni­tion over the years and had left me with his usual nod and wink, and “Not sure it is that one son” be­fore he dis­ap­peared to down­load the pic­tures. He mes­saged me shortly af­ter­wards to in­form me not only was it not the fish we thought it was, but he could not find a pic­ture of it any­where. There­fore, I could have caught a vir­gin 30 from the lake. If so, then mar­vel­lous. If not, who re­ally cares when they look like this! I know it has been said else­where but the stock fish that RK put into the lake upon tak­ing it over have started com­ing on leaps and bounds this year. With the change from day ticket to a syn­di­cate and a lot of qual­ity bait now go­ing into the lake as a re­sult, we’ve had over 15 dif­fer­ent stock fish reach 30lb­plus which bodes in­cred­i­bly well for the fu­ture of the lake and the next chap­ter in its long his­tory.

The rest of the day passed qui­etly with me check­ing my phone ev­ery other hour to see what the weather had in store, as we were ex­pect­ing the tail end of Storm Brian to ar­rive at some point in the fol­low­ing few days. Un­for­tu­nately, it looked like I was in for a real bat­ter­ing fish­ing the north end of the lake but as Del Boy would say, “He who dares” and all that...

I again got an early night but was not asleep long when the is­land rod went yet again. In al­most a rep­e­ti­tion of the bat­tle with the fully-scaled I soon had a large shape ap­pear­ing in the dull glow of the head-torch. As it slipped over the net chord I mut­tered to my­self “That looks like an­other lump” as its length and width gave an in­di­ca­tion of its size. I was 99% sure I had now landed a brace of 30s. Ini­tially I thought it may have been a fish called the Un­known Mir­ror due to its al­most lin­ear scal­ing but it seemed too long. The scales hap­pily con­firmed my ini­tial es­ti­mates, and at 33lb 8oz it was at the time, the big­gest of the RK stock fish to date, and a won­der­ful carp to

brace the fully-scaled with from that morn­ing (a few weeks later this crown passed to an­other stockie that went over 36). Know­ing Ru was asleep over on the Boat Pool I left her in the re­tainer whilst I prepped the gear for some self-take night shots which came out pretty well all things con­sid­ered.

As you can imag­ine by this time I was feel­ing mega con­fi­dent. Two nights in, four takes and a brace of 30s. So I baited heav­ily again that day in an­tic­i­pa­tion of more ac­tion and hope­fully Paw Print was soon to make an ap­pear­ance. Sur­pris­ingly Friday passed qui­etly. With all the takes so far com­ing to the one rod I was keen to get the oth­ers work­ing for me. De­cid­ing to re­main pa­tient with the open wa­ter spot, know­ing it had been cleaned out that week, I chose to re­po­si­tion the left hand rod. Un­til now it had been fish­ing fur­ther out along the rope where I had pre­vi­ously seen a num­ber of fish bub­bling dur­ing the last ses­sion there. I de­cided to re­turn it to the spot from the last ses­sion on the rope and once again made the trip down the mar­gins in my waders be­fore flick­ing it once more the short dis­tance to the cho­sen buoy (and then se­cur­ing a storm pole as a snag stick next to the buzzer).

Satur­day morn­ing her­alded the afore­men­tioned ar­rival of Storm Brian... for sev­eral hours a large bank of grey cloud had been build­ing and dark­en­ing omi­nously on the hori­zon and gusts of wind were in­creas­ing in both fe­roc­ity and mag­ni­tude. By way of prepa­ra­tion, I had sought out some large chunks of wood from all around the swim and now built them

Un­for­tu­nately, it looked like I was in for a real bat­ter­ing fish­ing the north end of the lake but as Del Boy would say, “He who dares” and all that...

as a makeshift com­bined wind­break/peg an­chor as you can see from the photo. By ten in the morn­ing the wind was ab­so­lutely bru­tal. If not for be­ing in the slight lee of the Cigar Is­land (due to its ori­en­ta­tion to the wind) I have no doubt that even with my pre­cau­tions and Heath Robin­son-in­spired build­ing work, my bivvy would have ended up on the rail­way track be­hind me! For around five hours I clung for­lornly onto the fab­ric to take the pres­sure off of the peg­ging points hop­ing to be able to ride out the storm with an in­tact shel­ter.

De­spite the air pres­sure be­ing through the floor and the con­di­tions be­ing so un­be­liev­ably ‘text book’ for a bite, noth­ing hap­pened. Not a show, not a liner and not a sight­ing. I think one fish came out that day in the Run­way, about 300-plus yards away, in the cen­tral sec­tion of the lake. I was con­vinced the ac­tion was go­ing to con­tinue, but for what­ever rea­son and in the most per­fect con­di­tions pos­si­ble, the fish had seem­ingly done the off.

Now I am not good at sit­ting still at the best of times but had a de­ci­sion to make. Usu­ally af­ter 24 hours on the lake if I had not had a take, or if I sus­pected I was not on fish, I would move. This time how­ever I felt dif­fer­ently, know­ing the area had seen a lot of bait. The weather was due a 180º change that night so I won­dered if they would come back again.

That even­ing on dusk I sat with a steam­ing mug of tea look­ing at a millpond and was con­vinced I had made the right call. I had not put any more bait out, fig­ur­ing that if they re­turned the area would be ‘just as they left it’ and went to sleep con­fi­dent of some ac­tion.

Some­time around 4am the rope rod in the chan­nel gave a pan­icked flurry of beeps and I was soon equally pan­icked and locked in bat­tle with a fast-mov­ing fish. Without too many shenani­gans on its part an up­per-dou­ble mir­ror soon sat in the net with its gills flar­ing. I de­cided it had suf­fered enough of an or­deal, un­hooked it in the net, had a quick once over to check it for any dam­age, and let it go without hav­ing re­moved it from the wa­ter.

Un­for­tu­nately Paw Print was still to make my ac­quain­tance and around ten that morn­ing af­ter no more ac­tion, I started the long walk back to the car park with my gear. I knew in re­al­ity that was it for me for the year. I was done. My chance had come and gone and it had not hap­pened. What had started as a dif­fi­cult sea­son had ended well due to some good de­ci­sions, help from good friends and the un­der­stand­ing of a good woman, all com­bined with a healthy dose of good luck. Thus I loaded the car a con­tent man.

As I now write this, de­ci­sions still need to be made about what 2018 year may hold in store. Do I con­tend with the re­gatta on a no doubt even busier Wrays­bury 2? Do I go back for an­other go at catch­ing two carp out of a pos­si­ble 400 on Wrays­bury 1? Do I go and chance my arm on a new venue I’ve held a ticket on for a few years now – a vast, no pub­lic­ity, low-stocked pit in the Val­ley, fished by a most se­cre­tive bunch of an­glers and ru­moured to be the home of gi­ant com­mons? Only time will tell. At the time of load­ing the car on that Novem­ber morn­ing how­ever, dis­tant shores were call­ing, and one night in a small and in­ti­mate theatre on Broad­way, the ful­fil­ment of an­other and very dif­fer­ent dream beck­oned...

ABOVE A view through the bushes of the rope spot

BACK­GROUND A tale for an­other time

TOP Just enough rope to hang them­selves! TOP RIGHT Open­ing the re­tainer to re­veal my prize

ABOVE The long 26lb 10oz mir­ror

BOT­TOM 33-pounder that com­pleted the brace of 30s later that night

BE­LOW Con­stantly scour­ing the wa­ter’s sur­face dur­ing the qui­eter times, al­lowed me to keep a track of their where­abouts

ABOVE Prep­ping for Storm Brian’s ar­rival

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